Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Thursday: 3 West, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

We're back.  We have been lucky enough to stay out of the hospital since January of 2010, which for a young heart transplant recipient, seems to be a minor miracle.  But, our hiatus is over and we are back on "3 West" - or as those in the PICU and CVICU know it, the "step down" unit.  We are in the room next to the room we were in when Bean came here post-transplant, and I had to catch myself from walking to that door instead of our current room the first night.  Because although it seems like a long time since our last visit, it also seems like it was just yesterday.  Some of you may already know why we're back here because you are facebook friends of mine, but for those of you who aren't, let me give you a quick fill-in:

Bean had her regularly scheduled biopsy Tuesday morning to check for rejection.  Everything seemed to go very well and we were discharged around 12:15 p.m. and headed out to the airport to pick up my husband, who was flying in from a business trip in Chicago.  By the time we had done that and been on the road for about 45 minutes, she threw up all over the back seat of the car.  We stopped quickly at the next exit (again, my sister Dawn took one for the team - it was her car and she had gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to help me out by driving and going to the biopsy with me...what a thanks that is we gave her...) and cleaned it all up and changed Bean's clothes and were back on the road.  We got to my parent's house about 25 minutes later and gave Bean some water and tried to calm her down.  I noticed then that she felt quite warm, so we took her temp and it was right around 101.5!  The discharge sheet for biopsies say to call them if they develop a fever over 101, so we called.  After a few calls between the heart center, the surgeon and the transplant team, we were told to head back in for overnight observation.  She threw up twice more before arriving at the hospital. Since then, we have found out she has pneumonia and we will be here until at least tomorrow.  So, our Thanksgiving 2011 is being spent in "3 West" of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (LPCH).  We are very thankful for LPCH, but not very thankful to be spending Thanksgiving here!  The real kicker is that my JP (my husband) has gotten sick (cold) and can't come to the hospital now because this wing is full of immuno-compromised kids.  So, I am at the hospital with Bean solo today.  A good friend was so good as to bring by Thanksgiving dinner from Boston Market for me at lunch and the hospital has a special dinner for Thanksgiving tonight as well.   So, I'm well taken care of food-wise and it was great to socialize with someone who isn't two years old and whiny and sick!

"3 West" is an interesting place.  As I said before, it is the step down floor for the PICU and CVICU, so there are always a number of transplant patients - new recipients, those waiting for transplants and those like Bean who are in here a number of months/years post-transplant due to other complications.  There are also those with surgical heart repairs healing, lung and respiratory issues, and other medical issues.  There are very small babies all the way up to teens.  There are very vocal patients (not unusal to hear the belligerent screams of toddlers or preschoolers dealing with nursing visits, needle sticks, etc.) and very quiet patients.  There is constantly traffic through the halls as a lot of patients are told they have to walk around in order to get discharged.  Many are dragging IVs or carrying drainage tube containers or feeding tube bags.  Some are being towed around in red wagons by parents and still others are being carried by parents.  Many are wearing masks due to their immune systems being compromised.  I must say that most people look exhausted.  It is exhausting on this floor.  In the PICU and the CVICU, the nurses are assigned one, maybe two patients.  Here, they are typically covering two or three rooms and their job is to make sure that parents and caregivers are ready for what they will experience at home.  So, they encourage parents and caregivers to do the work - feedings, diaper changes, giving medicine, etc., but they are having to do a lot of training.  And there are sleeping couches in each room because unless you have a very good sleeper and/or feel comfortable with the possibility of them crying or being uncomfortable until the nurse checks on them (versus the nurse being in the room with them as in the CVICU or PICU), you really need to plan on being here overnight.  Its not a great place to sleep, but it is better than a chair.

I never sleep really well when I'm here because there are constantly people in and out of the room or Bean wakes up and cries a bit, and I feel like I need to comfort her immediately (how horrible it must be to wake up in this room with an IV in your arm and now oxygen in your nose?).   So, I'm up and down all the time.  But, the nurses are usually very nice.  They try to be as quiet as possible when entering, doing their work ups and exiting.  The first night, the nurse brought me cookies.  They always ask what they can get for you.  So, although they are training you for dealing with the realities of your medical situation once you leave the hospital, they are very supportive and nice about it.  And with us, there really isn't any training going on, because we have our routines down for giving meds and I've dealt with just about all the possible things (keeping diapers for weighing, keeping track of liquid and food intake, where the extra blankets and pillows are located, what all the machines are and what the different alarms mean.  The only thing I had forgotten is how to disable the alarm on the IV machine, but that has now been refreshed!

Overall, LPCH is pretty good place to be if you have to be in a place like this. I'm thankful this Thanksgiving that we are lucky enough to have a team of doctors and nurses looking after Bean's health and although I would much rather be visiting my in-laws this week and eating too much for my own good and then eating more...I am happy that we have access and ability to have Bean here and to be sure that her health remains as good as it has been.  We hope to go another two years (or maybe even more) without an overnight stay in 3 West, but if it turns out that we have to be here again, we will accept that.   Taking care of Bean's health  is priority number one for me.  And this place seems to do it right.

We did get some great news today while sitting in this hospital room - the biopsy result was another zero!  That was two in a row now...for the first time since transplant!  This could mean that Bean's immune system will be weaker (since it is a sign that the anti-rejection drugs are suppressing her immune system a bit more effectively now).  Which means we will have to be a bit more vigilant when dealing with any health issues around our house.  But, we'll take that...and take the zeroes!

Hope everyone out there had a good Thanksgiving!  


  1. Hope your Bean gets to come home soon!!

  2. I just stumbled on your blog and couldn't help but read it when I saw that adorable child! I hope your next Thanksgiving is a more comfortable one with even more reasons to give thanks.



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